Rajnath calls on Sunak during UK visit, discuss enhancing defence ties

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street, London, said officials on Thursday, adding that both discussed enhancing defence ties between the two countries.

The meeting took place on Wednesday during which Singh recalled the recent enhancement in bilateral defence engagement, spanning joint exercises, training, capability building, increased interoperability and military-to-military ties especially in the maritime domain.

Sunak fully agreed with Rajnath Singh on the need for UK and India to work in the domains of trade, defence and technology. In particular, he expressed hope that the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion soon. He was keen to bloster defence and security pillar of India-UK ties, officials said.

Sunak also underlined his keenness, and that of his government, to strengthen the defence and security pillar of the bilateral relationship, including through government backing for stronger business and technology partnerships with Indian counterpart entities, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official added.

The Ministry of Defence said that Singh emphasised the ongoing efforts to enhance defence industrial cooperation, including in the technology domain.

The meeting was warm and cordial, said the official, adding that the Defence Minister highlighted that both nations have made significant strides in moulding and recrafting the historic ties into a modern, multifaceted and mutually beneficial partnership, under the direction of the leaders of both the countries.

According to the MoD, Rajnath Singh briefed Sunak about his positive interactions with the UK defence industry and the new positive energy in the bilateral defence relationship.

The Defence Minister stated that the UK and other like-minded countries should work with India for strengthening a peaceful and stable global rules-based order, including through partnering India in its inexorable rise, which can be strengthened, reinforced and speeded up with friendly collaboration.

Rajnath Singh further stated that at the international level, the Government of India is ready to partner with friends like the UK to strengthen the rule-based world order.

Singh gifted a Ram Darbar statue to the UK PM during the meeting, which was also attended by UK National Security Adviser (NSA) Sir Tim Barrow.

Singh also met with the UK’s Foreign Minister Lord David Cameron at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Ministers appreciated the new momentum and direction of the India-UK partnership, symbolised by intense engagements at various levels, the official said.

The India Defence Minister outlined his goal of integrating defence industries of both countries, including through supply chain integration to build resilience. He also emphasised the importance of bilateral startup level interaction, and identification and discussion of joint projects which India and UK could implement together.

Foreign Secretary Cameron reiterated the UK government’s desire to collaborate with India in the defence areas, particularly in the field of defence industrial collaboration, as one of the means by which the UK hopes to strengthen the support for a rule-based international order, official added.

Later, Singh interacted with the Indian community at India House, London. Over 160 prominent persons of Indian origin attended the interaction. A number of Indian military ex-servicemen, including few family members of World War II veterans, were also present.



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